Above: The cast of ‘Dead Awaken’ sing a clip from the production while hanging out at Edinburgh.
The annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe is wrapping up in the Scottish capital and the CalArts production of Dead Awaken at Venue 13 earned critical praise.
Based on Henrik Ibsen’s play When We Dead Awaken, Dead Awaken is a concert drama that fuses the high language of the original play with a contemporary musical soundtrack, composed by Brian Carbine (Theater MFA 16) and Preston Butler III (Theater MFA 17). Carbine also directs the play.
Dead Awaken follows Artist, played by Butler, who confronts feelings of loss and restlessness after completing an exceedingly well-received masterpiece. He and his estranged wife, played by Kristin Tripe (Theater MFA 16), wander from place to place searching for meaning or salvation. They meet the inspiration for Artist’s masterpiece, Muse, played by Jasmine Gatewood (Theater MFA 18), in a mountain resort. Convinced that Muse holds the key to his redemption, Artist will sacrifice everything to obtain it.
The Scots Reviewer calls it “simple and gorgeous to the eye… The high point of the production is the music: a combination of neo-soul and hip-hop with influences ranging from Erykah Badu to Kanye West. It is a fascinating fusion of theatre and music with Brechtian appeal that fills the space with such vibrancy.”
Three Weeks Edinburgh says, “Dead Awaken is a passionate and beautiful mash up of hip hop, neon-soul and equally beautiful, tender prose.”
Below is a slideshow of Dead Awaken when it was first workshopped at CalArts on Dec. 2, 2015.